Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review: Facebook Groups

Some companies just never get good press, no matter what they do right. For instance, in 2006, I switched from Mac OS X (Tiger) back to Windows XP mainly because Tiger did not remember my password, so every time I connected to my NAS I would have to retype it. Windows did so with no trouble at all. Ironically, the very next release of Mac OS fixed the problem, but by then I had already reformatted the hard drive and had no desire to go back. That same machine is still happily running XP over at my parents'.

Similarly, Facebook's in that purgatory today. No matter what they do right, very few people say good things about them. Well, recently, Facebook Groups fit our needs in a way that nothing else really does. Not wanting to turn my blog/delicious shares/picasaweb album into a free for all kiddie posts, I wanted a way for XiaoQin and I to share the pictures/videos with our friends. Google groups didn't cut it, since it doesn't really integrate with Picasa. (Does anyone use Google groups any more?) Google Plus doesn't let two people share the same circles (circle sharing only shares circles at one point in time), nor does it let two people administer one circle.

Facebook Groups, however, lets you create a group, provide admin privileges to as many users as you like, and then share photos/videos all to the same group. All the usual Facebook commenting happens there, and users get a friendly notification whenever new content shows up in the group, but you don't get your feed spammed with each new post/photo/video. This is clearly the right thing to do. There are a few glitches. The first big glitch is that the Facebook Android App doesn't know about groups, so if you take a photo with your Android phone, you have no way of uploading to any Facebook group! If I was the kind of person who shot photos on the phone instead of on a real camera, I'd be very pissed, but as it is, it's not much of an annoyance. The second glitch is that you have to have a Facebook account to participate. That's not a big deal --- even my mom has a Facebook account nowadays, while she's always had trouble with following me on Picasa. To be honest, that was the biggest feature: the Grandma has no trouble using Facebook.

After using this set up for a few weeks, I'm pretty impressed. First of all, I had no idea there were that many people interested in my baby pictures. And there's enough feedback that I'll keep posting to the group. I used to think that Google Wave would address such needs, but having seen what Facebook Groups is doing, I'd say that it's definitely doing a better job than Wave would have. Recommended.
(Disclosure: I own both Facebook and Google stock)
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